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SOUTHERN SECTION TENNIS ROUNDUP : El Toro’s Doubles Teams Help Top Newport Harbor

Riding the hot hand of its doubles teams, El Toro defeated Newport Harbor, 12-6, Thursday in the first round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs at El Toro.

Led by their No. 1 doubles team of Nadine Velastegui and Jenny Helms, the Chargers (14-7) won seven of nine doubles sets. They also took advantage of the absence of Newport Harbor’s top singles player, Mara Colaizzi, who was nursing an injured elbow, to edge El Toro, 5-4, in the singles sets.

But for El Toro, this was probably a case of losing by winning.

With the victory, the Chargers have the dubious honor of playing top-seeded Palos Verdes Peninsula in the second round Tuesday.

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Peninsula, which won the 4-A (now Division I) title last year, is 44-0 in the two seasons since the school was formed through a merger of Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Miraleste high schools.

“They (Peninsula) are unreal,” Newport Harbor Coach Charlie Bleiker said. “They are going to win CIF (Southern Section) walking away. Nobody is going to come close.”

It was the Chargers’ second playoff victory ever: They beat Riverside Poly, 13-5, in the first round in Division 3-A in 1986.

Velastegui and Helms did most of the heavy damage to Newport Harbor (15-6), sweeping their doubles sets, including the one that clinched the match for the Chargers. Even though they normally play in the No. 3 spot, the two played at No. 1 because the team’s regular top doubles tandem of Denise Kenyon and Carin Crawford wanted to switch places with Velastegui and Helms.

Newport Harbor’s Sarah Hawkins won her three sets.


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